Authors note: Thanx a million to Jeminus, who basically helped to inspire this story, everyone who has sent me feedback/confidence boosters/threats of violence etc. and to Lizzie my best friend who listens to me moan and never complains when I use her as a sounding board. You are all the wind beneath my wings.
There was no moon that night. Dark clouds obscured the stars, and a chill wind whistled through the junkyard. Victoria had left long ago, no explanation except a murmur of a clandestine meeting. Once again Jemima stood at the edge of the pipe, enjoying the rush of wind past her sensitive whiskers, glad that her mother was delayed by a birth on the other side of the yard. She stretched her limbs, and gently stepped out of the pipe. Immediately, the cold air chilled her bones and she shivered involuntarily, drawing a little further into herself, and her warm winter coat. An indefinable feline sense told her of the snow in the air and she looked up to the blanketing clouds, tinged faintly orange by the streetlights of the city. ‘an absent companion’ she mused to herself. She had known, as she always did, that there was no moon tonight, even behind that mask of cloud. She missed the energising glow of moonshine, the more it shone the more she felt alive somehow. Jemima shook herself to clear her mind, ‘back to work’ she thought, and headed away from the security of her mothers home. ‘Peace’ she told herself, but the spirits she somehow knew inhabited the shadows were almost palpable. Jemima sighed, the peace she had hoped the evening would afford her had not come and she knew in her heart of hearts, that to gain any rest she must return to the place where it had all begun. Wearily, she retraced her steps, finding the exact spot where the presence had first touched her. Cool wind brushed past her, but she felt no stranger, in fact she felt nothing at all, no presences seemed to inhabit this place. ‘Maybe it was just a dream’ Jemima thought, trying hard to half believe that. Still she found that, contented for now she could walk away.
It takes a few days for a new moon to rise. Every Jellicle knows that, just as every Jellicle knows that a lot can happen in a few days. Misto hummed happily to himself as he wandered across the great plains of junk. Vici had agreed that he, Him! The scrawny Tom with the conjuring tricks, could dance with her. He was practically her mate! Well OK, not that far, but a step closer to her, and, the jealous mind so characteristic of those in love supplied, closer than anyone else. His mind floated with the butterflies, arranging his future in an ordered tapestry of wants and needs. As his mind’s eye painted a vivid picture, his normal two lost sight of the ground and he walked, as high as a kite, into Jemima. *Thump,* Jemima’s lightening reflexes caught her in time, but Misto’s airy thoughts hit the ground a few seconds after his body did.
“Ouch” he complained, dusting off his coat. Jemima gazed at him without a trace of sympathy.
“It does help to use your eyes to steer” she said, smiling at him. Lifting a paw, she dusted a few stray pieces of grime from his shoulder.
“So what’s got you floating two feet above the pavement?” She asked. ‘As if you can’t guess’ a mischievous part of her mind replied, but mentally she shushed it. Misto debated internally for a second, would Vici mind if he told her? She’s her best friend idiot, his brain replied, she’s probably already told her herself.
“Well,” he began cautiously, “you see I asked Vici if she would dance with me, and...” ‘See! Jemima’s mind crowed, she fought the urge not to giggle.
“She said yes?” Jemima asked sweetly, Misto glared at her for a second, his moment of glory stolen, but the memory of her accepting quickly supassed his annoyance, and his eyes glazed again.
“She said yes.” He said dreamily. Jemima stepped around him smiling to herself. She was glad that he and Vici were happy, but more than that, that uniquely indefinable instinct of hers told her something good was to come of it, something for which she should be grateful. Shaking her head vigorously, she cleared her thoughts and continued on her way.
Cool wind slipped past her, and she shivered ever so slightly, odd she thought, sensations strange and vaguely familiar past through her, and seconds race by as a sensation now terrifyingly familiar engulfed her. “Not again” she cried, and struggled with the mist surrounding her. It was infinitely deeper this time, her senses told her, and she gave up hopelessly flailing. The mist seemed to swallow her whole, no senses working except one that told her of presences in the mist, a million million souls, everything, she thought, that could have ever lived. The mist was suddenly illuminated, and white shone through, hurting Jemima’s sensitive eyes. Tiredness engulfed her and her eyelids dropped, ‘somebody help me’ was her last thought, the rest were lost in oblivion.
Mistoffles turned, his reverie broken, and he gazed at the cat in front of him. Jemima’s image seemed fuzzy somehow, blurred at the edges like an image through water. Reds, yellows and whites mixed together, and a pale mist engulfed her tiny frame.
“Jem?” He called, but she either ignored him or did not hear. Slowly the mists began to dissipate, but to his horror Jemima went with it, her slim body slowly melting away into the receding cloud. Misto watched. mute and horrified, until Jemima’s body had faded away. Unbelieving, he shook himself and ran to the spot where she had been. No fur lay on ground, and not a whiff of her fragile scent was left in the air.
“JEMIMA!” Mistoffle’s voice screamed, tinged with fear and rage, all that he heard was his own echo, repeating hopelessly on the fields of junk.
Dreamer, do not waken here,
Pass peacefully this broken sphere,
For these things lie with certainty,
That they can never more now be."
‘Timeless things’ Sols. 1998
The floor, or whatever passed for it, was cold and hard. Jemima’s head hurt, and it was not helped by the blinding light that engulfed her. Around her everything was dark, inky blackness not penetrated by any light. ‘Where am I” she thought, and by habit and experience, she looked up. The moon was the blinding light around her, but there were no constellations to help with her position. In fact, there were no stars at all. ‘How strange, Jemima thought, standing on shaky legs. Carefully she walked out of the circle of light, and out into the blackness surrounding her. Even her feline eyes could not see, for there is no point searching for light when there can be none. Her whiskers to felt strangely muffled, as if she could only feel from inside a paper bag. She would have been frightened, she should have been frightened by her lack of sensation, but another sense overrode her fear. She could feel, almost see in this darkness, her mind contained almost a mental map, yet she did not know where it came from. With sure steps she walked among what she knew to be piles, though she could not see what they were made of. The place was peaceful, Jemima felt more at home here than she had anywhere else. Except... something tickled the back of Jemima’s mind, and she stepped back, raising her eyes to the sky. ‘There was a new moon today’ she thought. Her brain almost refused to except what she saw, by even more stubbornly, the full moon shone a bright beam onto Jemima’s upturned face.